First Person Point of View | Description, Types, Examples, Tips, Advantages and Disadvantages

First Person Point of View: In the English language, point of view refers to the way a story is being narrated. There are three main types of points of view: first person, second person, and lastly, third person. Since each of them are used for narrating a story, one must choose the type of point of view very carefully as it holds a lot of power regarding the way one’s story and its characters perceive.

In this article, we will be exclusively discussing the first person point of view, types of first person point of view, and first person point of view example. There are various advantages of first person point of view, and it also lets the writer manipulate the thoughts of the reader regarding the narrative.

First Person Point of View In English

Description of first person point of view

In a simple and easy way, first person point of view refers to those writings that use the pronouns I, me, myself, we, us, ourselves, etc., for narrating a certain story. This respective point of view provides us with an idea regarding the perspective of the narrator and allows them to speak about their opinions, experiences, and themselves.

When the narrator uses the first person point of view, then they either become the protagonist of the said story, or a character that has witnessed the entire incident and describes it in first person, or a supporting character that held a very important role in the story and hence narrated the story of the protagonist.

The narrator can also be someone who has heard the story from someone else and is simply retelling the entire story in the first person point of view. The first person point of view is often used by writers while writing novels, autobiographies, and memoirs.

Types of first person narrators

The first person point of view is used for writing many things such as songs, novels, short stories, etc. In these writings, the author uses different types of first person narrators. We will be discussing the types below:

Reliable narrators

Reliable narrators refer to those narrators who are very trustworthy and reliable characters in the story. Usually, here the protagonist becomes the narrator and are hence considered reliable. This specific type of first person point of view is used while writing memoirs since they write their own memoirs and gain the trust of the readers.

These characters are very likeable by the readers, and hence they end up rooting for the success of these main characters.

For example, Mark Twain’s novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, includes a reliable protagonist.

Unreliable narrators

Unreliable narrators refer to those characters that are considered to be liars and hence cannot be trusted. According to theory, every narrator who uses the first person is an unreliable narrator since everyone views experiences and incidents differently.

Still, a pure unreliable narrator is someone who is intentionally biased, provides the reader with lies, and tends to misunderstand their surroundings. Many characters can be untrustworthy, but unreliable narrators are only available in this particular point of view.

Unreliable protagonists are difficult to pull off in long stories since they make the reader feel deceived or rub them the wrong way, but pulling them off is not impossible as well.

For example, in Paula Hawkins’s Gone Girl, the use of an unreliable narrator is clearly visible.

Narrating someone else’s story

This refers to someone who is narrating the story to the readers but is not the protagonist of the story. They can be anyone, the main character, a supporting character, or simply a side character, but they are not the main protagonist.

When some other character narrates the story, then the reader is able to get a very different perspective to the entire story. This often changes the mindset of the readers, and the author can access the way the reader thinks since the information received by the readers are secondhand and often biased.

The author can choose someone to tell the story who is very interesting, whose way of looking at things is very different, and who has access to more information. For example, in the series Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Watson recites the stories of Holmes, but he is not the main protagonist.

Advantages of first person point of view

There are various advantages of first person point of view. Since it is used very often, the list of advantages for this particular point of view is quite long. Here, we will be discussing some significant and crucial advantages in detail.

  • Allows the narrator to connect with the readers

Using the first person point of view allows the narrator to build a very direct relationship with the readers. Since the readers connect with the narrator on a personal level, they feel assured by the fact that the story is real.

  • The readers experience the raw and intimate details of the story

Writing in the first person point of view allows the reader to see, hear, experience, and analyze everything the narrator does. The narrator can easily enter the mind of the readers and create their world of imagination. The readers even start relating themselves to the narrators.

  • It becomes easier for the authors who are writing for the first time

For all those authors trying to write for the first time, using the first person point of view is the best option. When one uses this point of view, they have the freedom to pen down all their inner thoughts in a very easy and simple way since they are using the pronouns I and we.

  • Creates different moods

The narrator can be anyone. It can be a small 15-year-old girl or a tough and muscular middle-aged man. The voice can differ according to the needs of the story and the choice of the author. The voice of the narrator can set a very unique and different mood for the story.

Disadvantages of the first person point of view

Along with some great advantages, the first person point of view comes with many disadvantages as well. Here we will be discussing some of them in detail.

  • Provides a very limited perspective

Since the first person point of view only includes the perspective of the narrator, the readers also get limited to the mind of the narrator only. They only experience and see the things that the narrator experiences.

It becomes quite difficult for the reader to understand the feelings of the other characters as well since they get too involved in the mind of the narrator.

  • The reader gets very biased

The reader provides an opinion that is very biased towards the narrator. Since they read the story from the point of view of only one person, the decisions or opinions that they make get very biased. They also tend to agree to everything the narrator agrees to.

  • Description of the narrator becomes quite difficult

In the first person point of view, the entire story is written from the point of view of only one character. But, since that character describes the other incidents or characters, it becomes quite difficult for the writer to describe the narrator individually. Hence, the readers often stay unaware of the looks or physique of the narrator.

  • The experience is narrow and can be false as well

The readers fail to understand the emotions of the other characters personally since they only view the story from one certain perspective. It may also happen that the information provided by the narrator is false since the narrator can be someone who is just repeating the story they heard from someone else, i.e., they themselves did not experience the entire thing.

Examples of first person point of view

Some common example sentences

  • I love to eat chocolate ice cream more than butterscotch.
  • Last day we won the match and received the prize money.
  • If I were to decide on behalf of everyone, I would surely go with Italian cuisine.

Novel examples

  • Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird.
  • The series of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.
  • Scott Fitzgerald’s, The Great Gatsby.

Poem examples

  • Lewis Carroll’s, My Fairy.
  • Emily Dickinson’s, Because I could not stop for Death.
  • William Wordsworth’s I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud.

Song examples

  • Adele’s song Hello.
  • The song, In my life, by the Beatles.
  • Steve Winwood’s, Valarie.

Certain tips for writing in first person point of view

  • Write a very clear opening

Make it very clear in the opening that you are going to use the first person point of view. Introduce your character and your narrative voice very properly so that the reader gets accustomed to their ways of thinking and starts bonding with the character.

  • Make your narrator a strong character

Be very careful while choosing your narrator. Make sure that the chosen narrator is someone very interesting and someone whose way of viewing things is quite unique and more knowledgeable. This allows the reader to have a greater mindset and also is accessible to more information.

  • Don’t make it repetitive

Just because you are using the first person does not mean that you need to start every sentence with the pronoun I. Mix up your writing so that it does not become very biased or repetitive.

  • Stay in character and be descriptive

While using the pronouns I or we, it may happen that the author gets distracted and starts writing about their perspective instead of the character’s. Make sure that does not occur, and you stay true to the perspective of the narrator. Also, do not get stuck only to the thoughts of the narrator; use their vision and describe things in a broader way.

So, to conclude, writing in the first person point of view is easier since one can express their thoughts pretty directly and easily. But the authors must also not take advantage of the trust of the readers and make the narrator reliable and strong.

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